A Tijuana cosmetic surgery clinic where a Chula Vista woman died a week ago following a liposuction procedure has been shut down temporarily by Baja California health inspectors.
The Millennium Cosmetic & Laser Institute in Tijuana’s Rio Zone was found to have “several irregularities,” including deficiencies in the operating areas and in record-keeping procedures, a spokesman for the Baja California Health Department said Friday. In addition, the clinic’s director, Dr. Louis May Villanueva, was asked to present additional documentation of his medical credentials, the spokesman said.
The inspection was triggered by reports of the death of Maria de Lourdes Trinidad Mendivil, 48, who went to the clinic May 22 to remove pockets of fat in her abdomen. May performed the procedure.
An autopsy determined the woman had died of a heart attack, according to the Baja California Attorney General’s Office. Investigators are trying to determine whether any medical errors were committed that could have contributed to her death.
Blood clots are a risk in many surgical procedures, and when they form they can travel to the heart and cause cardiac arrest.
The clinic could reopen as soon as the irregularities are rectified, according to the health department. If they are not, the clinic could be closed permanently.
May has a medical license, but is not a plastic surgeon. In Mexico, as in the United States, the law does not require liposuction procedures be conducted by a plastic surgeon.
May, who lives in Bonita, said on the clinic’s website that he earned his medical degree from the University of Michoacan in Mexico. In an interview earlier this week, May said staff members performed a routine blood analysis and electrocardiograph on Trinidad Mendivil before the procedure and “everything was perfect.”
The surgery lasted about 75 minutes and Trinidad Mendivil was awake throughout, as she was under light sedation and local anesthesia. May said that she told him she was feeling fine after the procedure, and he left the operating room. “Ten minutes later, I got word that she had a heart (attack),” he said.
When he returned to the operating room, three other clinic doctors and three nurses were working on Trinidad Mendivil, trying to resuscitate her. He blamed the death on a blood clot that likely formed during or after the surgery. She was not transported to a nearby hospital, because it would have interrupted efforts to revive her, he said. “We had everything here,” May said.
Family members say May refused to meet with them at the clinic. May said he spoke to the first ones to arrive at the clinic, but left on the advice of his attorney after more arrived and began to threaten him.
May declined Friday to comment on the clinic’s closing.